Israel's Tourism Ministry Going Green for 2009

Finding win/win solutions to our environmental crises is a cornerstone of our philosophy here at Green Prophet. We know that there are days when a plastic bag just seems like a plastic bag, dammit; and you really need that gallon of milk but forgot to bring along the eco-friendly canvas tote you love to shop with, and you can’t seriously lug a gallon of milk up one of Jerusalem’s many hills without a bag of some sort. Seriously, we know.

So we love when going green is not only the right thing to do, but actually pays. That’s why we’re especially pleased that the Ministry of Tourism has announced, in advance of World Environment Day (June 5th) to implement strategies to “green” tourism.

The “win” for us: a clean environment as we relax on the beach, knowing that we are part of the solution and not the problem. The “win” for the Ministry: International studies indicate that 70% of tourists from the U.S., Australia and Britain will plonk down as much as $150 extra per week for a hotel that they know is environmentally friendly. Multiply that by millions of tourists, and the moolah really starts to add up.

So how does it work?

In the Ministry’s own words:

“The Tourism Ministry’s plan is based on the following principles: environment-sensitive planning and development; preservation of the cultural and social heritage; developing tourism and new jobs in agricultural areas and the periphery while improving the quality of life for the residents and educating and raising awareness among residents and tourists about the importance of developing sustainable tourism.”

As far as the concrete actions that the Ministry will take to green Israeli tourism, the facts on the ground are these:

The Ministry’s plans include: “…Promoting standardization in green building; establishing an incentives framework for entrepreneurs based on green tourism criteria; encouraging renovation, rehabilitation and preservation of existing buildings and facilities; developing infrastructure and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.”

On the marketing side, a “green vacation” will be actively offered to tourists. A visitor management plan at tourist sites, eco-tourism trained guides, and eco-tourism activities will also factor into this new plan.

Related Links: Cycling Through Israeli Wine and Biblical History ; Guesthousing it in Israel: Get Your Eco-Farm On

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